Cllr Rev Ann Easter, East Ham associate minister and Queen’s Chaplain, celebrates the imperfections of loved ones

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- Credit: Archant

We’re in the season of remembrance; we’ve had All Saints Eve, or Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day when we remember all those people who have died who weren’t recognised saints – almost everyone then! - with Remembrance Day and Armistice Day soon after it’s appropriate that we recently had a conference called Dying Well in Newham

Although we’re open about so much these days, many people still find it hard to talk about death and the issues surrounding it so we offered some guidelines on writing a will, for example, and we looked at some of the effects of bereavement, and how to plan a funeral, your own or someone else’s.

I’ve conducted hundreds of funerals over the years and I’ve found it a great privilege to work with people as they plan the service. I help them to make it an opportunity to re-member the person who’s died, to bring together and make real and lasting some of what they were, their relationships and their impact on the world and to give thanks for them.

Most people are positive and some have even wanted me to say their loved one was a saint but I feel we can’t ignore their imperfections and struggles, their fragile attempts to make the best of whatever life threw at them.

Recently a family tribute included a list of the establishments where the dear departed had spent time at Her Majesty’s pleasure – that might be taking it a step too far! Perhaps, four or five times, I’ve been told that there is nothing good or nice to say about the person who’s died and I have to resort to a hope that God knew good things about them that perhaps we didn’t.

As a Christian, I believe that death isn’t the end of a person or the love they’ve shared; I believe that there is a new and wonderful dimension in Heaven where people are fully themselves, but more so - well and whole and free; so, as well as talking about funerals - which clergy will do until the cows come home – I offered the opportunity to light a candle and say a prayer. I believe that’s a good thing for us and for those who have died. More from Ann


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